The Starlost

Lost Stars Volume 1 (Star Wars) by Yusaku Komiyama, based on an original story by Claudia Gray. Yen Press, 2018. 9781975326531. 256pp.

A Japanese manga adaptation of a Star Wars novel originally written in English, translated back into English. Strange thought? Yeah. Worth reading? Totally.

Thane and Ciena are friends who grew up on the same backward planet with the same dream: attend the Imperial Academy. At the academy they were on the verge of becoming more than friends, but were driven apart. Now Thane flies an X-wing for the Rebellion, and Ciena is rising in the Imperial ranks. How’d all this happen? It’s not quite clear by the end of this, the first volume of the story, which takes place in the background of the original Star Wars trilogy (the good one, the original original, not the three movies you’re trying to forget).

When I talk about comics at library staff days and conferences, I meet a lot of folks who never read manga. I often recommend they try the original Star Wars manga that Dark Horse published back in the 90s because it’s easier to relate to the manga art style when the story is already familiar. But since those are long out of print, this is going to become my go-to recommendation for such folks. The focus lines make X-wings soar and help the AT-ATs on Hoth look extra intimidating. The layouts make for some amazing pacing. And everyone has such great hair! It’s kind of a relief. (I mean, have you watched the original trilogy lately? Why did no one in that far far galaxy ever invent hair care products?)

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Big Man Japan

My Love Story Volume 1 by Kazune Kawahara (story) and Aruko (art). Translated by JN Productions. English adaptation by Ysabet Reinhardt MacFarlane. 9781421571447. Publisher’s Rating: T for Teen.

I don’t think Chris at Seattle’s Comics Dungeon has ever recommended a manga to me before, but based on his amazing booktalk he’s clearly been hand selling this series for a while. But anytime a comics guy in his 30s recommends a teen shojo title to me, I take notice — I’d probably have bought it without such a good pitch.

Takeo is one of those thick, older looking dudes in high school manga. He’s got a square head, big shoulders, and he looks intimidating. His friend Sunakawa is classically good looking (at least in a shojo manga, Korean boy band kinda way). Sunakawa always makes girls cry, but they love him. Takeo is the best guy, but they don’t ever fall for him. One day Takeo helps out a young woman, Rinko Yamato, who is being groped on a train, and he falls for her. Takeo assumes she’s fallen for Sunakawa, but she’s wrong. It’s the start of an innocent, adorable romance.

I’m reading the next few volumes as soon as I can. My local library system has 13 volumes as I write this, and I hear the anime is awesome, too.